Thursday, December 6, 2018

Why the IRS Changed the 2018 ACA Reporting Deadline

The IRS made an announcement earlier this week that completely changes the ACA reporting requirements 2018: The deadline changed. That’s right, your ACA reporting as a completely new due date. 
The IRS has extended the recipient copy deadline for 2018 ACA reporting.

So What’s New ACA Reporting Deadline?

Initially, your 1095-B and 1095-C forms were going to be due to your recipients by January 31st, 2019. But following the announcement, recipient copies are now due March 4, 2019

The 2018 Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, and 2018 Form 1095-C, Employer-provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, need to be offered by applicable large employers (ALEs)––typically with 50 employees or more–– as evidence of offered minimum essential coverage.

March 31st is the due date to furnish 1095-B and 1095-Cs to the IRS if the aforementioned ALEs filed their ACA reporting electronically, and February 28th is the date to furnish those ACA forms if they had elected to paper file, at least under the initial ACA reporting requirements 2018.

This week’s announcement only alters the recipient copy deadline, which was the first of the ACA reporting deadlines in 2019. It does not extend the deadline by which ALEs must send their 1095-B and 1095-C forms to the Internal Revenue Service, which remains February 28, 2019 for paper filers and April 1, 2019 for e-filers.

Why Change the Deadline for ACA Reporting Now?

The IRS is known to be lenient in times of disaster, allowing areas affected by hurricanes and forest fires an extended period of time to file their required forms.

While California’s lethal November Camp Fire may be part of the reason behind the Internal Revenue Service’s decision to extend the recipient copy deadline, the official cause released by the IRS is rather simple: people just don’t have enough time.

According to this notice on the new ACA reporting requirements 2018, the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the IRS had a discussion with stakeholders, and have determined that a large number of employers, insurers, and other minimum essential coverage providers need additional time beyond the January 31, 2019, due date to gather and analyze the information and prepare their 2018 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to go out to recipients. ALEs do not have to show additional documentation explaining why they are filing by the “later” March 4, 2019 deadline.

The IRS has extended the recipient copy deadline for 2018 ACA reporting.Other Changes to ACA Reporting 2018

If any ALE needs even more time to furnish 1095-B and 1095-C forms for 2018 than the four weeks and four days provisioned under this new announcement, they can’t do it the old-fashioned way.

Regulations under sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code allow the IRS to grant extensions up to 30 days if an ALE shows reasonable cause, and ACA reporting filers can also get another month by filing Form 8809 on or before their original due date. However, in light of the extended 2019 deadlines for 2018 recipient ACA reporting, extensions are not a valid option. Extensions appear to remain available, however, for filing the 1095-B and 1095-Cs with the IRS.

The IRS notice may have bought you some time, but you should be thinking of your ACA reporting now more than ever. ACAwise is a full-service ACA reporting solution, and our account executives are standing by, ready to help you meet your ACA reporting requirements 2018.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Midterm Elections 2018: The Future of the Affordable Care Act

2018 midterm election results affect Obamacare

Now that the dust is starting to settle from the results of the 2018 midterm elections, projections for what the 116th Congress could mean for key legislation is starting to trickle in. Given how prominent an issue health care was in driving people to the polls, interest won't be soon to fade.

How Midterm Elections 2018 Will Affect the ACA

According to Healthcare IT News, HIMSS Senior Director of Congressional Affairs Samantha Burch believes that “Repeal and Replace” has been laid to rest after the results of 2018 midterm elections, which saw Democrats win control of the House of Representatives.

TIME reports that Democrats gained 27 seats, and with those seats, a slim majority. The new balance of Democrats in Congress is likely to mean a renewed focus on bolstering the Affordable Care Act, however, Burch notes that the House and Senate still have to work together. Thus, not all measures will necessarily be passed. But Burch does hold that the new House could carve a space for health IT priorities.

Democratic control of the House also means that any efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act are likely to be blocked, an initiative that appears to have been at the forefront of people’s minds as they showed up to vote in midterm elections 2018. The Affordable Care Act will be protected for the next two years with the makeup of the current House, Steven Lopez, associate director of UnidosUS' health policy project, has stated.

SyncStream Solutions released a forecast to ACAwise detailing that the results of midterm elections 2018 all but solidify that the employer mandate will remain; conversely, this means the individual mandate will remain repealed.

It is also projected by SyncStream that the protections for pre-existing conditions will remain intact given who won midterm elections in 2018. Legislation to repeal these protections is not likely to pass through a Democrat-controlled House.

One facet of the Affordable Care Act whose future is a little less certain is the Cadillac Tax. Since it faces opposition on both sides of the aisle, a repeal could still be on the horizon.

The Results of 2018 Midterm Elections

The candidates who won midterm elections in 2018 will help to make this the most diverse legislative class of Congress in history. As of November 27th, CNN reports that Democrats have won 38 seats, with a record number of women being elected to office.

USA Today places that figure at over 100 women in all midterms, representing ⅔ of the districts Democrats flipped. Other firsts for midterm elections 2018 include: the youngest congressperson ever elected (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [D-NY], the first Muslim congresspeople (Ilhan Omar [D-MN ]and Rashida Tlaib [D-MI] ), and first Native American congresspeople (Sharice Davids [D-KS] and Deb Haaland [D-NM] ). For the full list of diverse victories overall in the midterm elections 2018, click here.

Does This Affect Obamacare’s Current Litigation?

Bustle reports that Texas vs. the United States, the marquee clash against the Affordable Care Act, is likely to experience a change in of one of its key litigators. Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is projected to lose his seat to Democratic opponent Josh Kaul, who promised during his campaign to support the Affordable Care Act. Schimel is still waiting for all ballots to be counted.

While the Affordable Care Act is at the forefront of mind, have you thought about how you’re going to handle this year’s reporting? If you’re starting to stress, let ACAwise take it off your hands. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Compliance Checklist You Need to Prime For Success

Compliance can be overwhelming. This guide breaks it down.

There is a lot more to corporate compliance than filing your taxes on time. And while this compliance guide is far from comprehensive, making sure these aspects are in order is a great start to ensuring your company’s longevity.

Hiring Compliance

Compliance starts even before you have employees. Hiring practices can come under fire in the event of an audit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Should someone decide to whistleblow your hiring practices––warranted or not–– you need to be able to defend yourself.

The first step towards corporate compliance when it comes to the EEOC is, of course, not being discriminatory in your hiring practices. However, that alone is not enough; you need to be able to furnish evidence that your company has been obeying corporate compliance guidelines.

Should the EEOC come knocking you need:

  • Concrete evidence pertaining to and explaining why certain applicants were selected over others. This means being able to both highlight why some candidates stood out and point out why others were disqualified.
  • To check that your hiring managers are treating all potential hires equally, which can include things like
    • Drug testing only certain applicants based on their perceived background
    • Only reviewing applications for candidates who meet criteria not related to job skills
    • Preferencing family members of current employees

Immigration Documentation Compliance

Corporate compliance continues once you select a new hire. Now you have to prove your new hire can legally work in the U.S. by submitting an I-9.

The first step in maintaining immigration compliance is making sure your paperwork is up-to-date. Having thorough records won’t save you during an audit if those records were outdated when issued. Therefore, as soon as you start compiling an onboarding paperwork packet, check to make sure you’re using an updated version of I-9

Ideally, they sign all their paperwork when they sign their offer letter, but if for some reason they have not, the last day a new hire can sign their I-9 is their first day of work. After that, you, the employer, have no more than three business days after that to complete the I-9 Section 2.

Other regulatory compliance requirements include keeping I-9s on file for as long as that person is employed by your company. Additionally, you need to hold onto their I-9 paperwork for either 3 years, or a year after their termination, whichever is last.

Break down compliance regulations with this guide

ACA Compliance

In order to maintain Affordable Care Act compliance, you need to be offering affordable coverage to everyone in your employ if you have 50+ full time employees. You need to make sure the coverage you’re offering is actually affordable, that your lowest-salaried employee can still survive off of what remains of their paycheck once health insurance is deducted. Your company health care only needs to be what is called ”minimally essential,” but run the numbers every year to make sure your cheapest plan is as affordable as you think

Affordable coverage is a great start, but ACA compliance is two-fold: you need to also prove you offered your employees the health care options.

Your proof of offered coverage is the 1094 and 1095 forms that you need to file with the IRS, which you can do right here on ACAwise.

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OSHA Compliance

The mainstays of Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance are fairly simple. First, is the procedures poster (that you’re required to have) clearly visible? This means it is not posted on the side of the breakroom fridge, or in only one of the bathrooms.

Second, are the emergency telephone numbers posted in logical place? While it might be useful to have Poison Control in the bathroom, perhaps ensure that it is posted in the break room or kitchen area as well.

While it’s not necessarily OSHA practice, make sure the phone numbers of important (insofar as it pertains to an emergency) office personnel are easily accessible. Make a spreadsheet all employees can access, or appoint a crisis manager per each shift and make sure they have all the information they’ll need to handle an emergency.

Regulatory Payroll Compliance

A lot of payroll compliance comes down to paperwork. In addition to filing your 941s, 940s, and 1099/W-2s on time, you also need to check that: 
  • All employee SSN on file are correct
  • Employees input the correct address for their W2/ 1099s
  • Your withholding rates and handbook are up-to-date 
  • Employees are classified properly (in terms of exempt, nonexempt) and that the corresponding overtime rates match state/ federal requirements
  • If your business is along state lines your work-from-home policy deals with workers from out of state and ensures that state’s proper payroll compensation rate

Note: It is assumed that you have a system in place that tracks time and attendance, but a lesser-known time and attendance compliance requirement is that timecards must be kept for at least two years.

Maintaining company compliance on all fronts is a big undertaking, but if you break it down into smaller, attainable steps, you can pass any audits with flying colors. We can’t be with you every step of the way, we can make sure ACA compliance is one less thing for you to worry about. Schedule an appointment with our account managers today!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Cheaper Obamacare 2019 Premiums on the Way

Obamacare 2019 could bring welcome lower market premiums.

Obamacare 2019 premiums are finally falling. CNN reports that the drop in the insurance premium is the first since 2014, when the Affordable Care Act exchanges opened. The insurance premium for the benchmark silver plan is expected to decline by 1.5%, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This shakes out to approximately $6 saved a month.

Insurance Premium Plummet?

Part of the cause behind the benchmark insurance premium skyrocketing in the first place was market instability. Insurers hiked the premiums to cover their anticipated losses in a time of market upheaval. There is also conjecture that premiums have fallen because repealing Obamacare was a non-event, and will remain stalled during the open enrollment period.

Obamacare 2019 On the Rise

The amount of insurers on the federal exchange is also anticipated to grow for the first time since 2015; CNN cites 23 more carriers in the Obamacare 2019 open enrollment market than were present last year.

USA Today says that Tennessee is expected to receive the biggest Obamacare 2019 premium drop––26%–– and that the average premium for the "benchmark" plan will cost $406 next year. However, as each of the 39 states offering Obamacare 2019 differ slightly in their marketplaces, their insurance premiums deviate slightly. Wyoming clocks in at the highest anticipated benchmark insurance premium cost, $709, while Indiana's $278 clocks in as the lowest insurance premium for Obamacare 2019. 

Low and Behold

The lower insurance premium could be a boon for people who don’t qualify for premium subsidies (given that the subsidies cover 90% of the Obamacare health insurance policy’s cost). CNN reports that most of the people dropping out of the Obamacare market departed because they didn’t qualify to receive subsidies, and thus shouldered a lot of the impact of the past rate hikes.

With more people poised to enroll in Obamacare, make sure you have a reporting strategy in place. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to get your 1094 and 1095 forms into the proper hands, ahead of deadline. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How To Use Effective Listening Skills for Business Success

Business leaders celebrating the use of effective listening skills for business successThere are many factors that come into play while achieving business success. Early mornings. Late nights. Dedication. Sacrifice. Most successful businesses require each of these, along with listening skills to eliminate unnecessary barriers that may present themselves along the way. You’d actually be surprised at how much you learn just by using strong listening skills! Today, we will learn how to use effective listening skills for business success.

How To Use Effective Listening Skills for Business Success

Listen to Your Business Partners

Most successful businesses have found that it is difficult to grow a business if proper communication skills are not used–especially when communicating with colleagues. Having good communication and listening skills help to compress the learning curve as a business executive.

Instead of learning things the hard way, take advantage of the advice shared by those that have experienced the highs and lows of business leadership. Listen to people in your network and always remain teachable. Any insight you can glean from your circle is worthwhile!

Effective Listening Helps When Dealing with Clients

“The customer [client] is always right”

We know, you have heard this line thousands of times. Although this is a cliché, there is much truth to the statement. When conversing with clients, use strong listening skills to gain a better understanding of their wants and what they enjoy (or dislike) about your company.

There are plenty of positive ways of communication that can lead to a healthy discussion with your clientele. Jot down a few questions that trigger great dialogue –– the more you find out, the better you can grow your company.

Effective Listening To Your Employees

It’s no secret that workplace morale improves when people feel heard. Make an effort to engage with your employees, even when they don’t have a problem. Set the standard for workplace communication skills by being receptive. If you can, try to enact an open-door policy during some hours of the day, or by letting your employees know the best times of the day to email you if they need an immediate reply. Effective listening starts with simply being there to talk to.

The next step after being there when your employees bring their problems to you is to demonstrate concern. Even if their problem is minor in your scheme of things, it is a big deal to your employee if they have bothered to come to you. Remember to nod and maintain eye contact during the exchange, and make sure your employee leaves the meeting feeling like you have a grasp on what was bothering them.

Never Forget To Listen to Yourself

Your arsenal of listening skills should include listening to yourself. You know that inner voice that you hear sometimes and tend to avoid? Start listening to it! Trust your personal judgment in certain situations but most importantly, when your body tells you to slow down, do so.

It is very easy to become immersed in their work, which leads to over-exhaustion and burnout. This can be avoided by engaging in activities that are beneficial to your health and peace of mind. Schedule “down-time” and do enjoyable things with your family and friends. Eat well and get rest.
Your company needs you, so always make yourself a priority!

How Most Successful Businesses Use Effective Listening

The use of effective listening and positive communication will help you on the path to business success. Here are some final takeaways that you can benefit from for years to come:

    Company executive using effective listening skills for business success
  • Build a Strong Network of Most Successful Businesses
  • Listen to Your Support System
  • Have an Open-Door Policy With Employees
  • Initiate Dialogue With Your Customers
  • Listen To & Trust Your Gut Instinct
  • Make Yourself a Priority
Now that you have a better understanding of how to use effective listening skills for business success, what about tax preparation?––more specifically, ACA reporting. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today!

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Monday, October 8, 2018

This Is How Covering Tattoos at Work Can Hurt Your Company

Do you need to update your workplace self-expression policies?

As younger people enter the workforce, they bring with them the culture they grew up in. Often, that’s a culture of riotous color and more than a few body modifications. Depending on your company’s self-expression policy (like covering tattoos at work), the way these candidates look might disqualify them completely, but it is important to remember that more and more companies are broadening their self-expression policies, and could thus be snapping up the talent you turn away. Worse, your company’s self-expression policies might be causing your current talent to disengage and cause you problems down the line.

Is Covering Tattoos at Work Antiquated?

There is nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, but consider how public the whole of your company is. If clients are not meeting with all of your employees, do all of your employees have to have natural hair and no piercings? If only some of your staff is on camera, do all your employees have to look camera-ready all the time? If the CEO doesn’t tour the office every day, does everyone have to dress like a C-level visit is imminent?

If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” then maybe it’s time to re-think some of your corporate self-expression policies, and whether or not your employees need to focus on tattoo cover up and corporate homogenization instead of tasks that move the company forward.

Corporate attire is another thing. If you prefer certain shirts or skirt lengths, etc. it is possible to ask your employees to still adhere to a dress code while expressing themselves. Consider it a compromise: slacks and button-downs in exchange for not having to remove nose rings and cake makeup over foot tattoos.
How updating your company self-expression policy will benefit you in the long run.

Tattoo Cover Up and Other Corporate Self-Expression

Research by the Harvard Business Review uncovered that self-expression helps new hires acclimate and feel at home, which in turn increases their retention rates. Research states that a company “pushing their identity on an employee” led to a less strong corporate relationship and overall lack of pride of the employee in their organization.

Employee retention is rooted in some degree of employee satisfaction. Unless you have an unlimited budget and time to invest in constantly hiring new employees, perhaps some of that time is better invested in determining if you can make your current employees happier. And it could be as cost-effective of a decision as allowing tattoos in the workplace.

Gen Z Joins the Workforce: Why Corporate Culture Is a Cultural Problem

Regardless of what your business is or does, word-of-mouth is potent, especially with a generation as plugged in as Gen Z. If they don’t feel engaged or welcomed at work––be that because of forced corporate attire or other employee management policies––they are less likely to tell their friends positive things about the company. Whether that amounts to one less newspaper subscription, or storm of negative social media posts, the end result is still disseminated dissatisfaction.

In terms of corporate longevity: you are losing future customers. Gen Z will only grow more and more prominent in the job and consumer markets, and if your corporate practices leave a bad taste in too many mouths, that could spell disaster down the line. Simply put, rethinking your corporate self-expression and policies on covering tattoos at work is good for your future.

You don’t just want to keep your employees engaged, you also want to keep them tax complaint. If you’re looking for a way to do your 2018 ACA reporting, ACAwise is the solution for you. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to help you with efficient 1094 and 1095 distribution. To learn more about ACAwise, schedule an appointment today!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What Employers Need To Know About Service Dogs in the Workplace

Employees with disabilities may require the assistance of therapy dogs or service dogs in the workplace to assist them in completing daily tasks. As an employer, you must be aware of service dog laws and how to best accommodate employees that need this help in the workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Here is what employers need to know about service dogs in the workplace.

Disabled employee using service dogs in the workplace

What Employers Need To Know About Service Dogs in the Workplace

What is a service animal?

The ADA defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to perform tasks or work for the benefit of a disabled person. Aside from service animals, disabled employees may use the assistance of companion animals (pets) or emotional support animals (therapy dogs) that provide comfort and companionship to employees that deal with psychiatric or emotional conditions or disabilities.

Note: Although service animals provide therapeutic benefits for its user, the ADA does not require an employer to allow therapy dogs or other emotional support animals in their business, just service animals. However, employers are still encouraged to make reasonable accommodations to their disabled employees.

Accommodation Requests

Employees do reserve the right to request reasonable accommodations for bringing service dogs in the workplace. These requests should be submitted in writing and filed with the employee’s records and processed in a timely manner to avoid any legal issues.

The letter submitted by your disabled employee should include a description of their disability, how it affects them at work, why a service animal is needed for assistance in performing their job, and what the service or therapy dog will do for the employee. It is also beneficial to be informed on how the employee plans to take care of the animal and its behavior.

Denied Requests

As an employer, you do have the right to deny a request to have a service dog at work only if it creates an undue hardship. Simply saying “our business doesn’t allow dogs,” or “therapy dogs will cause too much commotion during business hours,” will lead you to a dark road you do NOT want to travel. Grounds for denying an accommodation request is very strict, such as:

1) Must show that allowing the accommodation imposes a major burden or cost on the company (as it relates to the expense/nature of the accommodation) due to its size and resources.
2) Creates a hardship for other employees that may have severe dog allergies.
3) Moving current employees into disclosed workspaces away from the service animal.
Tip: Be very careful and fully analyze any accommodation request you receive. Denying a request can lead to legal action if not handled properly.

The ACA Compliance Solution Every Employer Needs

We know you endeavor to accommodate your employees, and it is our goal to accommodate you. At ACAwise, we provide a full-service ACA reporting solution to handle your tax needs as they arise. Keep all of your employees on track with the help of our efficient 1094 and 1095 distribution. Schedule an appointment today to learn more about ACAwise!

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Monday, October 1, 2018

The Obamacare Pros and Woes You Need To Know

WI DOJ had an ACA lawsuit filed against it the last week of September
Between a new legal battle with the Wisconsin justice department (WI DOJ) and a finally perceptible market stabilization, Obamacare is back in the headlines. While lawsuits are at the heart of both current events driving Obamacare’s search-engine resurgence, we’ll break down why you should have Obamacare on the brain once more.

WI DOJ Gets In Hot Water

Last week, the Associated Press reported that The Center for Media and Democracy is now suing the Wisconsin Department of Justice over the department’s failure to turn over requested information pertaining to Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel's lawsuit regarding Obamacare.

Schimel joined Texas vs. United States, a multi-state lawsuit currently under litigation, seeking to overturn Obamacare in April, and The Center for Media and Democracy requested Aug. 20 to see Schimel’s emails on the Obamacare onslaught from Jan. 1 to Aug. 3. AP reports that the Wisconsin Department of Justice denied the open records request.

We will update this blog as more information on both the Texas vs. United States and the WI DOJ Obamacare lawsuits becomes available.

Obamacare Drops In Price

CNN is projecting that purchasing a benchmark Obamacare plan next season might be cheaper, for the first time since 2014. Health Secretary Alex Azar tweeted Thursday that the premium for the silver policy is expected to decline by 2% for 2019. He is also quoted as saying that the number of insurers on the federal exchange also will also change for the first time in a few years, as it is expected to grow for the first time since 2015.

As open enrollment for health care begins Nov. 1, a more nuanced outlook on Obamacare is expected to be released late this month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Open enrollment for Obamacare lasts until Dec. 15 in many states. 

Obamacare insurers are starting to profit on the individual marketAlthough a lot of insurers fled the market when Obamacare began to descend into upheaval, those who stuck it out through the tumult are finally starting to reap rewards. As Texas vs. United States languishes in litigation, Obamacare has started to stabilize. CNN reports that many insurers are actually breaking even or have begun to make a profit in the individual market.

Aggregating your Obamacare updates is not the only thing ACAwise can do for you. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to get your 1094 and 1095 forms into the proper hands, ahead of deadline. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

How The Senate is Helping To Eliminate Surprise Medical Bills

Medical treatment and its costly expense have left many Americans frustrated and in medical debt. Acknowledging the ever-growing need for medical bill assistance, a bipartisan group of the Senate recently proposed a plan to protect patients from the unexpected surprise of paying medical bills and expensive charges from doctors or hospitals that are not in their current insurance network.

How The Senate is Helping To Eliminate Surprise Medical Bills

HealthAffairs reported this week that multiple states (Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Oregon) have tried to ease the burden of surprise medical debt, but were curbed in their efforts because current state laws don’t apply to privately-insured Americans enrolled in “self-insured” health plans that are popular among large employers. Since the states can’t affect change, it’s up to the federal government.

The Senate is helping to eliminate surprise medical bills by introducing a bipartisan proposal, BenefitsPro reports.  Designed to prevent unnecessary medical bankruptcies, the draft legislation has decided to target the following key consumer concerns:

1) Emergency treatment conducted by a doctor who is not part of the patient’s insurance network and is conducted at a medical center (hospital) outside of the network. Patients in this predicament would be required to pay for these costs out-of-pocket due to the limitations of their insurance plan. Both the hospital and doctor could seek additional payment(s) from the insurer of the patient through the new proposal.

2) Those treated by a doctor outside of their network or another provider at a hospital within the patient’s insurance network. The new bill would allow patients to pay only what is required by their plan. However, doctors could still seek further payments from the plan based on the formulas that the patient’s state has set up.

3) Lastly, those that receive a mandated notification as an emergency patient, once stabilized, could incur excess charges if they are treated at an out-of-network hospital. Patients in this scenario would be required to sign a statement that would acknowledge they had been informed their insurance would most likely not cover all expenses and they could seek further treatment elsewhere.

Giving Patients A Helping Hand

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), announced that “Our proposal protects patients in those emergency situations where current law does not  so that they don’t receive a surprise bill that is basically uncapped by anything but a sense of shame.” Aside from emergency room and out-of-network hospital visits, patients can face very expensive bills for using a ground or air ambulance to be transported to a medical facility.

While the Senate gets a toehold on mitigating medical debt, you can get ahead on your Affordable Care Act reporting for 2018. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting and is certified to help you ease the burden of distributing your 1094 and 1095 forms! Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Will Medicare Advantage Plans Cut Choices?

New provisions to Medicare Advantage might endanger some patients
A large portion of the population is aging out of private health care and into Medicare coverage, and with that shift comes a growing enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans. Coverage for Medicare Advantage plans comes through private companies approved by Medicare.

Also called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” a Medicare Advantage Plan offers coverage for all of your Hospital Insurance (Medicare Part A) and Medical Insurance (Medicare Part B). A Medicare Advantage Plan covers everything Original Medicare would, with the exception of hospice.

In recent weeks, the freedoms available under Medicare Advantage for the next year have fallen under speculation.

Will Medicare Advantage Plans Cut Choices?

The short answer is yes. Benefits Pro just reported that starting next year, a Medicare Advantage Plan can start adding restrictions to injectable drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration, cancer, and other serious illnesses.

The concern is that these restrictions might enable private Medicare insurance plans to try cheaper versions of drugs before they’re allowed to use the ones their physicians are prescribing.

The Disadvantage to Medicare Advantage

Speculation has been raised that elderly and more infirm patients might be endangered under these new restrictions. Depending on the patient’s condition, being unable to immediately seek their doctor’s first choice in prescription drugs could be the difference between life and death.

These constrictive stipulations are part of the current administration’s attempt to deliver on promises of lower drug prices. And while the Medicare Advantage Plan patients are certainly being offered cheaper drugs, these Medicare Advantage restrictions create a grey area. There is currently no threshold to determine when the cheaper-tier drugs are deemed “ineffective” and patients can being pursuing their doctor’s initial prescription.

The Path Forward

Benefits Pro reports that Federal health officials told insurance providers last month that they were cleared to substitute a less expensive Part B drug to treat a medical condition the FDA has not approved it for so long as it could be documented that the drug was safe and effective.

Patients that do not want to risk trying the cheaper drug first have two options: an appeal, or an exemption, although their physician’s support is needed to continue. The physician will need to explain the situation to the insurers and provide heavily detailed documentation as to why their patient needs to have the more expensive, top-tier drugs. The insurance plans then have 24-72 hours to respond to these appeals and exemption requests. You read a more detailed description of the appeals process here.

If non-Medicare health insurance is weighing on your mind after these developments, then we have good news. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting is certified to help you ease the burden of distributing your 1094 and 1095 forms! Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

How To Easily Make Your Work From Home Policies Effective

Studies show that employees that work from home tend to save employers money, have increased productivity, and give most employees the flexibility that they desire. As with any type of employment, those who do remote work should have policies, expectations, and guidelines in place to ensure they adequately perform their job. With remote work becoming more popular, especially in specific fields, it is important to know how to easily make your work from home policies effective.

Are your company's work from home policies effective?

How To Easily Make Your Work From Home Policies Effective

Set Guidelines

While work from home jobs have policies that vary, all employees should know when it is okay for them to work remote and when they should be in the office. Vague policies lead to unnecessary friction and confusion. Take time to think about and analyze various scenarios that you would and would not allow remote work employees to complete their jobs from home. Make these scenarios very clear and put them in writing so all parties understand what is expected.

Make Your Expectations Known

Many companies never reach their full potential because they rarely communicate their expectations to employees clearly. Clear and direct expectations are vital to the success of work from home jobs. Here are some things you should assess:
  • Are employees that do remote work required to “clock-in” or begin work at a specific time?
  • Is it a requirement to respond to messages, emails, and voicemails by a certain time?
  • Should breaks or lunch times be reported?
  • Do remote work employees need to virtually attend meetings?
Have the answers to these questions prior to hiring a candidate for remote work. These questions may also arise during an interview, so it always good to be prepared!

Be Positive

When running a team with individuals that work from home or in the office, be mindful of what you say and keep a positive attitude. The slightest remark with a negative connotation regarding those that work remotely can cause division between your team, especially those that do not have the option to work from home.

To avoid this type of discord to arise within your company, take a few moments to educate all employees on remote work facts and the employment benefits and cons that come with it. Clarity and understanding go a long way!

Protect Your Work From Home Policies

As you continue to grow your company both in-house and remotely, be sure to have an ACA compliance and reporting solution in place to handle your tax needs as they arise. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to help you with efficient 1094 and 1095 distribution. To learn more about ACAwise, schedule an appointment today!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Are Your Parental Leave Benefits Competitive Enough?

Industry leaders are starting to mandate better paid parental leave
With industry leaders starting to offer competitive employee benefits ––paid parental leave chief among them––this is your chance to get ahead of the curve. Paid parental leave is wading into the employee benefits pool, but will you be ready for when it makes a splash?

Employee Benefits: Paid Parental Leave

Before we dive into how paid parental leave is starting to shake up the employee benefits sector, here’s a primer. Paid parental leave is considered time taken off by new-parent employees to welcome a child through either adoption or birth. Paid parental leave does not involve an employee’s PTO, sick, or personal leave, but those stores can certainly be dipped into to supplement the parental leave period.

Some key differences between paid parental leave and maternity leave or paternity leave: American paternity leave is often restricted to the arrival of a biological child. Similarly, maternity leave in the United States is often for biological mothers only, to be taken when delivering and caring for the baby.

According to BenefitsPro, Only 13 percent of private-sector workers in the U.S. receive paid parental leave.

The State of Paid Parental Leave

Quite literally, whether or not your company offers parental leave as part of their employee benefits package can depend on the state in which your company operates. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are currently the only states that mandate paid parental leave.

However, there has been employee benefits activity at the city level. Cities like St. Paul, MN. and San Francisco, CA, among others, have their own paid parental leave policies.

Turning the Tide of Employee Benefits

Companies like Microsoft are placing mandates on subcontractors, stating at the close of August that they would only offer contracts to companies with a three-month paid parental leave policy that provides the person on maternity leave or paternity leave with up to $1,000 a week. The software leader plans to roll out this paid parental leave policy over the course of the next year.

And Microsoft is far from alone. Just last week, Glassdoor assembled a slideshow of the 15 American companies with the best parental leave policies among them Spotify, Twitter, and Johnson & Johnson.

It may be worth examining the paid parental leave path being blazed by industry leaders. As we approach an era where employees are beginning to feel heard, and the talent pool has the privilege to weigh their options more, it could hurt your company if you do not offer competitive employee benefits. Paid parental leave can take a while to roll out, so if you take notice now, you could be in the sweet spot to start offering competitive employee benefits in a few years.

Regardless of the benefits you offer, you’re still responsible for your employees’ ACA reporting. But you don’t have to shoulder all that paperwork alone–– or at all. ACAwise is a full-service ACA reporting solution. We are IRS-authorized and designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Behavioral Interview Questions and How To Get Great Talent

Behavioral interview questions narrow down candidates
The process of finding new talent to build your company’s team is easier than ever with the help of the internet and social media. With just one or two job postings on the right platform, you can attract hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants ready to schedule an interview. But how do you find the true gems during that influx of applicants? Simple: behavioral interview questions.

You’ve had your fair share of interviews by now, but while you can certainly fall back on your experience don’t let that be your sole skill during the interview process. Interview preparation is not just for the interviewee. You need to know what you’re looking for, and behavioral interview questions offer you a somewhat subtle way to make sure the person sitting before you truly has the tools you’ll both need to succeed. 

Behavioral Interview Questions and How To Get Great Talent

Although it is difficult to learn everything about someone in one interview, behavioral interview questions give you a closer look at the applicant and how well they would fit into your company’s work culture and environment. Just like those that apply, the interviewer must devote some time to interview preparation in order to ask the right interview questions.
Choosing the Right Questions

The first step in choosing the right behavioral interview questions to ask is to determine what behaviors you are looking for. Typically, the best behaviors to see in new employees include: 

Effective Communication
Time Management Skills

Once you have selected the type of behavior(s) you are seeking, draft several interview questions that reflect these behaviors and alternate between interviews. 

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

Tell me about a business or academic situation that you felt being honest was inappropriate. Why did you feel it was inappropriate and what did you do in that situation?
Share with me an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client. How did you handle this situation?
Give me an example of a time where you had to manage multiple projects/assignments at once? What steps did you take to handle this type of workload?
Tell me about a time where you worked under very close or very loose supervision. How did you handle that?

Tip: Listen closely to each response and take notes. Also, be mindful of applicants that respond with vague answers, generalized responses, repeat examples, or tend to use the word “we.”
Bonus Tip: Topics to Avoid During an Interview

We want you to build the perfect team for your company, and part of that is putting your best foot forward even though technically you’re not the one who needs to be impressive. Here are some general interview tips on topics to avoid while interviewing an applicant: 

Arrest record
Current/past salary
Irrelevant questions to job
Marital status/family
Military background (unless the experience is job-related)
Sexual orientation

Using behavioral interview questions narrows the candidate pool

Build Your Team With The Right Applicants

Behavioral interview questions make a difference in your search for new talent. Whether you are new to the hiring/interview process or just want to improve your interview techniques, hopefully, you can use these interview tips to benefit you for years to come.

Now that you have more of a lock on interview preparation, what about tax preparation?––more specifically, ACA reporting. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What To Do If Your Business Is In The Hurricane Florence Path

How to protect your inland business from Hurricane Florence
Disclaimer: This blog is not for the people on the coast who should have evacuated or hunkered down by now. This is for those of you on the edges of Hurricane Florence who might have questions about how to safeguard your business when it comes to preparing for a hurricane while in the path but not on the coast.

Weather reports are calling for heavy rains and winds in the projected inland sections of the Hurricane Florence path. This means that you will need to prepare for flooding, power outages, and possible infrastructure failure.

Tips for Preparing for a Hurricane

Plan for the worst. Not apocalypse-level, but you don’t want to come out on the other side of Hurricane Florence wishing you had done more to prepare. This hurricane preparation primer is aimed at making sure Hurricane Florence doesn’t destroy your business, but the following is by no means a comprehensive guide.

Protect Your Files From Hurricane Florence

The Digital Age is not waterproof. Floods could invade your office, or the roof could falter and let water in. If your company’s important paperwork (payroll, HR, production documents, photos, etc) are stored somewhere cloud-based, double check to make sure there are no sensitive files that exist solely on one person’s desktop. Encourage your employees to make a Hurricane File on a shared cloud drive if they have any crucial data they don’t have time to back up properly. They can encrypt it if it’s not meant for everyone to see; the main point is to ensure that access to the information is not lost forever if the office floods.

If your company is not cloud-based, back everything up in multiple places. Since you’re in a time-crunch, have your employees use their best judgment as to what is crucial. Unless you have a list of important documents that everyone needs to back up, tell them to save anything a new hire in their position would need to do their job effectively.

Ideally, you have a couple external hard drives in your possession people can back up to, but if not there are thumb drives and email. You want to have every important document available in at least two places, whether that is floating around your Gmail or saved to a bag full of thumb drives.

Protip: Do not store valuable papers in any office dishwashers. Just because office dishwashers keep water in does not mean they can keep water out.

Hurricane Prep List: Office Food

If you have a refrigerator in your office you can do three things about all the food that will be in there unattended during Hurricane Florence: you can eat it all, throw it out, or use the penny-cup trick

The penny-cup trick takes a day to take effect, and will determine if the food in your refrigerator is edible once you return to the office following Hurricane Florence. Fill a mid-size cup (like the disposable kind used at parties) to the top with water, and freeze it overnight. Once the water is frozen, place a penny on top of the ice. Put the cup back in the freezer during the storm. Once you return, check to see how far below the top of the ice the penny now is––if you lost power, the ice would have thawed and the penny would have sunk. If the penny is still at or near enough to the top, the food in your office freezer and fridge should still be viable.

What you can do to minimize Hurricane Florence's damage to your business

Take Pictures of Your Valuables

Having insurance is a good start, but with such a high volume of people also making insurance claims after the storm it helps to have proof of what you owned. Document your possession of printers, supplies, and any technology. Get serial numbers if you can. 

Seek High Ground

If you have company vehicles that are not in use every day, check your local listings about parking garages that are open to the public. Park your vehicles there if you can. If you have employees who live on a hill, ask if they’d be willing to host a company car in exchange for a small bonus.

Seek high ground for what is inside of your business as well. As a last-ditch effort to preserve valuable documents or other important items, wrap them in plastic or a few layers of coats from the Lost and Found, and then store them on the middle or mid-top shelf of a closet. This way, they have extra insulation from potential floodwaters.

Hopefully, this primer has provided you with a few tools you can use to prepare your business for Hurricane Florence. Once the storm settles, we hope we can give you other tools as well––the tools to handle your ACA reporting for 2018. We provide full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

DOJ Warns Of Health Insurance Chaos Without Obamacare

Health insurance markets could be in upheaval if the ACA is shelved before January
Last week, Texas vs. The United States, the court case centered around the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, hit the courtroom. The first thing to be decided during the litigation of Texas vs. The United States is whether or not the Affordable Care Act should be put on hold the entirety of this legal battle. According to BenefitsPro, on Wednesday the federal government warned that such an immediate and nationwide halt of Obamacare could trigger “chaos” when it comes to the insurance market.

Health Insurance Chaos Without Obamacare?

The state of Texas and the attorneys general representing the interests of the GOP have requested that the Affordable Care Act be blocked as soon as possible, while the Justice Department wants to postpone the effect of that court order until after Jan. 1, around the time the provision penalizing people for not having health insurance is phased out.

The Merits of Insurance Market Stasis

Leaving the Affordable Care Act intact through the end of 2018 does not sit well with GOP plaintiffs, who believe that people will want to make insurance decisions during the coming fall open-enrollment periods. The Democrats litigating on behalf of Obamacare say that the law has too many factors at play in the insurance market, Medicare, and Medicaid to be disbanded now.

Impending Health Insurance Chaos

The federal government announced in June that it did not plan to defend Obamacare, but that doesn’t mean that there are not some benefits to keeping the law around a little longer. On Wednesday, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate told Texas vs. United States’ presiding U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor that blocking Obamacare before January would “cause chaos in the insurance market.”

The Future Of The Health Insurance Market

Politico reports that Judge O'Connor noted Wednesday that in upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare, Supreme Court justices often assumed that the individual mandate and the insurance protections of Obamacare were inseparable. With the individual mandate gone, there is no guarantee that the Affordable Care Act will be upheld again.

Until there’s a ruling, ACA reporting should still be a going concern. If you need someone to handle your 1094 and 1095s, look no further than ACAwise. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Why Today Is a Big Day For Obamacare

Wednesday is a big day in the Texas vs. United States ACA case
Today is a big day for the Affordable Care Act. In a Fort Worth, Texas courtroom, attorney generals from both sides of the aisle are going to duke out whether or not the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.

Why Today Is a Big Day For Obamacare

In this case, known officially as Texas vs. The United States, the Republicans plan to argue that after Congress eliminated the penalty for not having health insurance last year, entire health law is now unconstitutional. The Democrats will prepare the counterargument describing the Affordable Care Act’s solid legality.

The GOP believes that since the Supreme Court upheld the ACA in 2012 by citing the requirement to carry insurance was a legitimate use of taxing power wielded by Congress, the fact that there is no longer a penalty for not having health insurance renders Obamacare unconstitutional.

The Outlook on The Future of Obamacare

According to BenefitsPro, while the Justice Department does not wholly agree with the GOP plaintiffs about the removal of the penalty nullifying the whole law, it does believe that without the penalty, the part of Obamacare that requires insurance companies to 1) still offer health care coverage to people with preexisting conditions and 2) not upcharge people with preexisting conditions when they do sell them health care might need to go.

The GOP seems willing to accept the elimination of the protections safeguarding preexisting conditions as a compromise if the whole of the Affordable Care Act cannot be struck down. Should the court vote in favor of removing the preexisting conditions protection, changes would take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, when the penalty disappears.

Progress will be made today on the Affordable Care Act case TX vs. USWhy Wednesday Is a Big Deal For The Affordable Care Act

Today is important in the case of Texas vs. The US because the two sides will argue whether or not the Affordable Care Act should be put on hold the entire time this case is in court. 

The GOP plaintiffs are asking a “preliminary injunction” on the law, stating in their brief that people will want to make insurance decisions during fall open-enrollment periods, and also that the turnaround on state insurance plans/ Medicaid operations is slow, so the process should start sooner rather than later. 

Democrats are combatting this ideology by stating that pausing the Affordable Care Act during litigation would cause utter chaos, given the arms Obamacare has in both individual and employer insurance markets, Medicare, and Medicaid.

We will update this blog with the verdict as soon as one is available. While the Affordable Care Act is on your mind, have you thought about how you’re going to handle this year’s reporting? If you’re starting to stress, let ACAwise take it off your hands. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

The Affordable Care Act Isn't Dead, So You Need To Know These 3 Things

Affordable Care Act requirements are still alive and well for 2019
The Affordable Care Act might have sustained a few hits since it was known as Obamacare, but it is far from dead. Enough of the ACA remains intact for 2018 that you can still run up some serious penalties if you are not paying attention, so we prepared this primer on what you need to be aware of since the Affordable Care Act isn’t dead.

Since The Affordable Care Act Isn’t Dead, Know This:

Reporting Requirements For The Affordable Care Act Still Exist

The 1094-C and 1095-C are still a going concern, and not just because the IRS uses what’s on the 1095-C to determine if you’re going to get penalized. Large employers (typically considered as having 50 or more employees) are required to file 1095-C forms every year to send to their employees and the IRS.

These forms make record of the company’s ACA compliance: did you offer health care? Did the employee take it? The forms need to make their way to the IRS by April 1 of 2019, and the IRS can slap you with a penalty for not providing these forms to them, not providing these forms to your employees, and disregarding the necessary filing requirements. You can also be penalized if your forms arrived on time but were incomplete or incorrect.

If your 1095-C is incorrect, not only will you get penalized for the errors, but that could lead to even higher penalties if the IRS decides to use your 1095-C to determine how it will enforce “employer shared responsibility payment” (ESRP) penalties on you. More on ESRPs next.

226-J Letters

Benefits Pro reports that the IRS is currently enforcing what is called “employer shared responsibility payments” (ESRP) penalties against those employers who didn’t meet the Affordable Care Act requirement of offering health coverage to their full-time employees. So if you have 50 or more full-time employees, you still need to offer them medical insurance for 2019 under current Affordable Care Act guidelines, and your ACA compliance for 2018 hinges on whether or not you offered them coverage for this year.

If you don’t offer your full-time employees health insurance, you will receive your IRS penalty in the form of a 226-J letter. The 226-J cites information from the 1095-C you filed for the coverage year in question, and the penalties can be the cost of coverage plus penalties of $2,000/ year per full-time employee, in some instances even including those that elected health coverage from you.

If you find yourself the unlucky owner of a 226-J letter, you have 30 days to respond to the IRS via Form 14764, which the IRS typically encloses with your 226-J. If you think the IRS is erroneous in their claims against your coverage offerings, you can file a 14765 to challenge them.

If you decide to fight the 226-J letter, there is a chance the IRS will accept your explanation and lower your levied penalty to $0 using the 227-K letter.

The Affordable Care Act Still Requires A Benefits Summary Disclosure

It’s no surprise that employees like to shop around for health insurance, especially in this market, and under the ACA as it currently stands, you owe your employees a summary of benefits and coverage to make it easier for them to comparison shop.

Stay ACA compliant: give employees a summary of benefits and coverage
These summaries, dubbed SBCs, need to be provided during an employee’s open enrollment period. SBCs also need to be given to the employee the moment they become eligible for health coverage, or the moment they ask you for an SBC directly. Failure to provide a summary of benefits and coverage can result in a penalty of $1,128 per participant.

Are you stressed about ACA reporting yet? Don’t be! ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms into the right hands with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

You Should Expect an Unstable 2019 Health Insurance Market

 Current broker insights project the health insurance market is set to become volatile as higher-income Americans react to increased ACA plan premiums. The Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute reports that federal policy shifts may force many people to abandon the individual health insurance market unless states start protecting their ACA exchanges.

Competition for Cheap Health Insurance

The report, which sought insights from insurance agents and brokers, states that have rising premiums are likely to drive healthier Americans to seek cheap health insurance elsewhere, in short-term health plans, for instance. This exodus is projected to only drive up the rates in the individual market, which in turn could force even more people to start looking at alternatives for their current healthcare insurance.

The brokers are pinpointing higher-income Americans as the ones to leave because that cohort makes too much money to qualify for government subsidies, like the one the ACA provides for those up to 400% of the federal poverty level.

The Healthcare Insurance Microscape

This report looked to six states –– Iowa, New Hampshire, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, and Utah –– as a crucible of healthcare insurance activity, because these six states have what is deemed “fragile markets,” and higher-than-average premiums.

The report reveals that within health insurance landscapes like the ones in these states, narrow provider networks are leading people to drop ACA plans. Limited plan choices are also a factor projected to lead to health insurance market instability, and so people have been turning to small-group market plans and cheap health insurance with increasingly limited protections. The brokers also said people are considering direct primary care arrangements, which is a contract between patients and their primary care provider.

While it may be easy to write this report off as conjecture intended to seed the health insurance market with panic, bear in mind that this report relies on insights from brokers and insurance agents who are working in the field, directly in contact with Americans struggling to find cheap health insurance and health care plans they can afford. Americans with individual insurance are already struggling, and 2019 does not appear on track to alleviate that.

Consider the Impact To Your Company’s Health Insurance Offerings

As you look ahead to the implications of the current health insurance landscape on your company’s health care options, don’t be afraid to work ahead, too. It is not too soon to think about your ACA reporting. Come January, you’ll need to be focused on how to navigate the volatile 2019 health insurance market––don’t bury yourself unnecessarily in 2018 reporting while you’re already struggling under paperwork for the coming year.

Schedule an appointment with one of our ACAwise account managers today. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to help you with efficient 1094 and 1095 Form distribution, so let us take this off your plate.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Team Building Activities People Will Actually Like

Team Building activities with sticky notes
You can only build so much of a coworker relationship out of water-cooler conversation and meetings, but in order to function its best your team needs to, well, be a team. Team building doesn’t have to make you cringe. It’s designed to do the opposite, and so we’ve rounded up a list of some team building activities for work that will keep the groaning to a minimum.

Team Building on a Budget

If your workplace doesn’t have a team building budget, then lavish rafting trips are kind of out of the question. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t team building activities you can do right in the breakroom.

Team Building Game 1: Identity Crisis

You may have seen variations of the following team building game, where people walk around with index cards bearing the name of a famous person or movie on their back and have to glean clues to what their index card says by going around the room and talking to their coworkers. It doesn’t matter who the last person remaining is, because the objective is to talk to new people and get your team to help each other out.

The twist in this version is that instead of pop culture references, you make the word or phrase written on the index cards something specific to your company: localities served, brands, services rendered, programs offered, etc. Is it a flashy team building exercise? Not necessarily, but it gets your staff talking to one another and eliminates the generation gaps discussing pop culture can sometimes expose.

Game 2: Campfire Stories

Corporate team building activities run the risk of seeming stuffy or too formal. A good way to combat that is by creating an atmosphere that puts people at ease, which “Campfire Stories,” a game we learned from Workamajig, achieves using only a whiteboard and some sticky notes.

Step 1: On the set of sticky notes, write some “trigger words” to start the storytelling session. Things like “work travel” “first day” “most awkward thing you’ve done in the office.”

Step 2: Divide a whiteboard into two sections. Post all sticky notes one section of the whiteboard.

Step 3: Gather your team and make sure they all have access to fresh sticky notes. Ask a participant to pick out one trigger word from the sticky notes and use it to share an experience (say, about his/her first day of work at the company). Shift the chosen sticky note to the other side of the whiteboard as the story is told.

Step 4: As this team member is describing their experience, ask the others to jot down words that remind them of similar work-related stories onto the extra sticky notes. Add these words to the whiteboard.

Step 5: Repeat this process until you have a word wall with interconnected stories.

Team Building Scavenger Hunt

This team building exercise requires a little bit of a budget because there are prizes. Hide a slip of paper (or a couple slips of paper) throughout the office building with either prizes written on each slip, or clues on each slip leading to another slip that ultimately leads to a prize.

If the scavenger hunt is too big of an undertaking, stick to hiding a few slips of paper with prizes written on them. Different levels of difficulty (how well these slips are hidden) dictate the prize. A slip taped to the tissue box might be for a free frozen yogurt, while the slip taped behind the work fridge in the secret storage room might be a $50 gift card.

Corporate team building activities

The team building part comes in by encouraging your team to hunt in groups. Have extra gift cards or coupons on hand to increase the reward accordingly if one of the slips is found by people working as a team.
Not all team building activities have to make people cringe. If you feel like your team could get to know each other better, give any of these team building exercises a go. At the end of the day, they’re your team and we know you’re looking out for them. We can help you look out for them when it comes to the IRS, too. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to help you with efficient 1094 and 1095 distribution. To learn more about ACAwise, schedule an appointment today!

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